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Food and Drink on the High-speed Train

China's high-speed trains are a fast and convenient way to travel across the country. They are also equipped with various options for food and drink, so you can enjoy your journey without worrying about hunger or thirst. However, if you want to have more choices and save some money, you may want to prepare some food and drink before boarding the train.

If you don't have time to buy any food or drink before boarding the train, don't worry. You can still buy them on the train. There are 4 ways to buy food on the train: in dining carriage, from the attendants, from vendors in large stations, from 12306 app or website.

In Dining Carriage

Most high-speed trains have a dining car, usually located in the fifth or thirteenth carriage. The dining car offers breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as various beverages and snacks. The food is not included in the ticket price, so you need to pay extra for it. The food is mostly Chinese style, with few Western options.

In addition, the dining car part in the short train is usually just a counter, and next to it is a normal second-class seat. The long train has seats, but you have to buy something (quite expensive) to sit.

The specific number of the dining car will be announced by some trains’ broadcast, and the conductor will also remind you. You can ask the conductor like this: 请问餐车在几号车厢?(qǐng wèn cān chē zài jǐ hào chē xiāng)

The food in the dining car is mainly boxed meals, instant noodles, snacks, fruits and drinks. The boxed meals are pre-packed and heated in a microwave. They usually contain rice, vegetables, meat and soup. The price ranges from 15 yuan to 45 yuan.

Dining Carriage Dining Carriage
Dining Carriage Dining Carriage

From the Attendants

If you don’t want to go to the dining car, you can also wait for the train attendants to push a trolley cart past your seat. They will sell boxed meals during meal times, and beverages, snacks, and fruits at other times. The boxed meals are the same as those in the dining car, with rice, dishes and noodles.

You can signal to the staff to stop the trolley cart and pick what you want. You could pay by cash or credit cards. 

In addition to the food and drink on the trolley cart, some trains may also have some salespeople selling local specialties from the destinations along the route. These may include food items such as dried beef (干牛肉), spicy tofu (麻辣豆腐), preserved eggs (皮蛋), sesame candy (芝麻糖), etc. These items may be more expensive than those in the market, but they may also be more authentic and unique. 

From Vendors in Large Stations

For large stations, there are lots of kiosks on the platform and the train will stay here for 20 to 30 minutes. You can ask the price and compare for the most reasonable ones.

However, buying food from the platform vendors is not always possible or advisable.

First of all, you need to know how long your train will stop at each station and which stations have platform vendors. Generally speaking, high-speed trains do not allow platform vendors to sell food, because they have strict security management and short stop times, usually only a few minutes.  

On the other hand, some normal trains may have platform vendors selling food, because they have longer stop times, usually between 10 minutes and 30 minutes. These vendors usually appear on the platform when the train is about to arrive or depart.

Delivery service on high-speed trains

Some high-speed trains also provide a delivery service, where people can order food through the 12306 app or website.

The delivery service is only available on the Chinese version of the app or website. There is no English version or translation option for this service. This may pose some difficulties for foreign passengers who want to use this service.

Drinking Water on China’s Trains

On the train, there is also free hot water in very carriages that you can use your own cup to fetch water. 

The hot water dispenser on the high-speed rail is usually installed at the front and rear connections of each car or on the right side of the door when entering the car. The hot water dispenser on the high-speed rail is different from the one on the ordinary-speed train, it is embedded in the wall of the car, which reduces the space occupation to a certain extent, and also avoids the risk of hot water splashing on people when the train shakes. The hot water dispenser on the high-speed rail can generally provide hot water not lower than 90°C. You can bring your own cups (Please make sure your cup can withstand high temperatures before using it) or use the paper cups provided on the train to drink water in the car.

There are also some taps in the washrooms or sinks of the carriages, where passengers can get some tap water. However, the tap water is not drinkable, it’s only be used for washing hands, face or teeth.


Food and Drink Service for Business Class Passengers

If you want to enjoy the best food and drink service on China’s high-speed trains, you may want to book a business class seat. Business class passengers can enjoy free snacks and beverages on the train, as well as more comfortable and spacious seats.

The food and drink service for business class passengers is different from other classes. Instead of going to the dining car or waiting for the trolley cart, business class passengers can order food and drink from the menu on their seat screen or by pressing the call button. The staff will bring the food and drink to their seat within a few minutes.

The food and drink service for business class passengers is one of the benefits of booking a business class seat on China’s high-speed trains. It can make your train journey more enjoyable and satisfying. However, you also need to pay more for a business class seat than other classes. The price of a business class seat is usually three times that of a second class seat.  See more details about Types of China Train Seat

business class

Some basic Chinese words to buy food on the train

我要买这个 (Wǒ yào mǎi zhè ge): I want to buy this. 
这个多少钱 (Zhè ge duō shǎo qián): How much is this?
太贵了 (Tài guì le): Too expensive. 
可以便宜点吗 (Kě yǐ pián yí diǎn ma): Can you make it cheaper? 
好吧 (Hǎo ba): Okay. 
给你钱 (Gěi nǐ qián): Here is the money. 
找钱 (Zhǎo qián): Give me the change. 
谢谢 (Xiè xiè): Thank you. 


1. Different train types may offer meals in different level. Generally, meals served on High-speed train will be in a higher level than meals in other train types.
2. The price of food or meal do not included in the ticket prices. If you want to have one, just pay the cash to the attendant and get what you want from the menu on the train.